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Thread: Jury Duty

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Jury Duty part 1/2

    Trial's over in one day, although it took us a bit past 4 PM. More on that later.

    First I'll post info that may help future jurors, but I don't know whether some of what I've experienced is court policy or just for our particular judge. Your experience may vary.

    I'm not naming names. If you actually work at the First Circuit Court and you want to discuss my comments in more detail then please send me an e-mail. (If you're on my "Ignore Poster" list then I won't receive your PM.) If my comments piss you off, then that's just tough-- you probably managed to piss me off first, you had a chance to explain yourself to me directly, and you earned this posts's comments by your actions or by your lack thereof. You don't have to explain "policy" or "efficiency" to me because I'm posting this from the perspective of a juror who just wants to be treated like a human instead of a pool number. If you don't want to piss off prospective jurors then you'll have to change the way you do business. But it probably functions marginally enough to avoid mandating change.

    The Ka'ahumanu Hale (777 Punchbowl, by Restaurant Row) doesn't even unlock the public doors before 7:45 AM. It's easier to show up at 7:55 or even 8 AM to trail the crowd. You won't miss anything, although showing up much later risks missing the first muster in the jury pool room.

    Backpacks & bags go through a scanner. Bodies go through a metal detector. Laptops & iPods are permitted in the building. The jury pool's phone # is on the website (http://www.courts.state.hi.us/genera...y_service.html). The number to reach a human at the Ka'ahumanu Hale is 539-4360. For now anyway.

    The juror voicemail works well. The summons (and the website) suggest calling it after 5 PM, but it's updated as soon as they have something to say. If you call earlier then you may get an earlier update. One voicemail may cover several different jury pools, so have your pool number handy. Our trial was delayed for three days (don't know why) but the voicemail kept us informed.

    The jury pool is in the first room on the left after the scanner. Free coffee & private bathrooms in the back. There's enough room in the bathrooms to change clothes from outdoor shorts & tank tops to warm pants & shirts. The pool room has lots of reading material, cable TV, kaukau shop next door. Free (local) phone calls for those without cell phones. The coffee is good but you may wish to bring your own food or else pay expensive (Restaurant Row) retail prices.

    The jury pool's bureaucracy makes the military look pretty good by comparison. For people who do this as a living, you'd think they'd change a few practices. But I doubt that they've ever been forced to serve on a jury, so maybe they're blissfully ignorant. There may also be hard legal lessons learned, or perhaps they're aimed at the lowest common denominator of prospective jurors. I would never want to be a professional juror.

    After hanging around the jury pool room for a few hours I noticed a steady trickle of jurors at the office window with parking problems. Let's just say that parking is so limited, and the rules are so complicated, that it's easy to screw up. It's far better to take the bus or even a cab than to try to park in that area. Even if you think you understand the parking FAQs it's better to eyeball the situation on a weekday (when you have time) than to try to figure it out on Monday morning. I had no trouble with the express buses.

    The first action upon entering the jury pool room is picking up a pencil and a laminated mileage chart. They give you the data and the tool to enter your mileage on your summons (you're compensated 33 cents/mile). Around 8 AM we were mustered and then we filled out the mileage on our summons. We turned in our summons and I haven't seen it since, so if you wanted any of the information on it (the court phone number or the handy street map) then you should make a copy before going to the court.

    Next we watched the video-- the same video that's on the website, so don't bother watching the website video. Hold onto your curiosity until court day and enjoy 20 more minutes of your life before jury duty.

    The clerk in the jury pool room would've benefited from a script. She seemed to have some notes, and she seemed to know what she needed to explain, but words failed her several times. She seemed to be visibly struggling to avoid speaking pidgin, yet if she'd used more pidgin then things would've moved a lot faster. She had trouble answering questions. By the time she was done her "brief" felt like a badly dubbed foreign film, and you wanted subtitles.

    Each jury pool seems to be assigned to a judge's court. The next person to show up in the pool room introduced herself as an "extern" for our judge. (Hey, "intern" would've communicated what we needed to know, but we were surrounded by legal experts.) The first thing she did was to take her own muster, perhaps in case one of us sneaked out after the video. Then she explained a few things about the judge's courtroom and told us to regroup outside his courtroom where we... took another muster. (You military veterans and kindergarten graduates can see how the rest of the day goes.) We were also lined up in alphabetical order and left standing there for several minutes while she checked whether the courtroom was ready for our appearance. Unless the court likes practicing the muster process, we could skip the first two musters and just work from our summons. Or, golly, we could just all go sit in the courtroom and let them muster us when we're needed. Perhaps this staging outside the courtroom makes business go faster inside, but I'm skeptical.

  2. #27
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    Default Re: Jury Duty part 2/2

    Once inside the courtroom, the judge introduced himself and his staff. He did his best to make us feel at ease, even comfortable & chatty. Do not be fooled-- judges are trained professionals with more job than time, and in the courtroom they are not your friend. They want you to talk, so that they can determine if you're able to serve as a juror, but they have heard it all before. No matter how unique, critical, or inspired your explanation may be-- they've heard it all before.

    I have difficulty detecting lies, but I've paraphrased some of the reasons that the prospective jurors gave (with very serious facial expressions) for being unable to serve:
    - "I know (or am related to) a lot of police officers, and the defendants are only here because they're lying scumbag lawbreakers who make life hard for the police."
    - "The lying scumbag police discriminate against my skin color."
    - "I work for commissions, and the court's $30/day won't pay my rent."
    - "If I miss my mandatory workplace training then [insert global calamity here]."

    The judge validated and sympathized with the explanations, saying that he'd take their reason under advisement and they still might have to serve. One juror actually asked to approach the bench for a private discussion with the judge, and then he was dismissed-- to serve on a civil trial. In other words, to start the process all over again on a different day. Another guy didn't read his summons FAQs closely enough and wore shorts. (Maybe he thought he'd be dismissed for demonstrating his inability to follow directions.) The judge called him out for extra humiliation and told him to wear appropriate attire next day.

    I'm not a legal expert, but it seems to me that the judge is the wrong person to convince of your unsuitability (or unavailability). He'll either offer sympathy and still make you serve, or he'll dismiss you to another jury pool where you'll have to start all over again. Since you've already wasted several hours to get to this point, don't waste more time on the judge. He certainly won't waste his time on you. Save it for the prosecution or defense lawyers.

    At one point the judge asked the "extern" for the muster. She said they had 32 present and nine no-shows. (The judge grumbled about bench warrants but hey, why waste time lecturing us? We showed up!) I don't know how many summons originally went out from that courtroom, but I'm guessing 50, so at least nine other people probably promptly informed the court that they weren't able to serve-- for example, military on active duty. Next the clerk randomly pulled 12 of the 32 remaining names out of a tumbler. (So why were we lined up and seated in alphabetical order?!?) The judge verified that they'd been properly summoned-- U.S. citizens, Hawaii residents, not convicted felons. He wanted to know who'd served on a jury or worked in a court or if we knew police officers. Again, he softened us up and got us chatting.

    The prosecutor & defense lawyer each had 20 minutes to quiz the 12 candidates. (The "extern" held up little timecards to help the lawyers stay on task. Thanks, judge!) They asked more questions about various legal issues. The lawyers each have three peremptory challenges allowing them to eject jurors, no reasons required. This is where an unwilling juror would figure out what annoys (or scares!) the lawyers and give them reason to use a peremptory. Only six jurors (out of ~50?) were dismissed, and only because of the lawyers.

    Once the lawyers had used up their six challenges, we had 12 jurors. (No one was challenged "for cause" so I don't know what that means.) The judge picked two alternates and the lawyers didn't challenge them either. No one seemed to think that the trial would take more than 1-2 days, so alternates didn't seem very important to them.

    Apparently the lawyers aren't bothered by military retirees who know police officers and have done legal work. Or maybe they figured that retirees have plenty of time for them. But instead of just 12 chances out of at least 50 to be put on a jury, the actual odds appeared to be 21 out of 32. You don't get those odds at a blackjack table...

    I'll do another post in a day or two about the trial & deliberations. "Promoting a drug in the third degree" (crystal meth) and paraphernalia (meth pipe). Convicted on both counts.
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  3. #28

    Default Re: Jury Duty

    I just completed my jury duty today. Considering that I was actually seated for a jury in a criminal trial, it was about as painless an experience as could be expected. Nords gave a pretty thorough description of his own experience. And for the most part, his info matches mine. But there were some differences that I will now cite.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nords View Post
    After hanging around the jury pool room for a few hours I noticed a steady trickle of jurors at the office window with parking problems. Let's just say that parking is so limited, and the rules are so complicated, that it's easy to screw up. It's far better to take the bus or even a cab than to try to park in that area. Even if you think you understand the parking FAQs it's better to eyeball the situation on a weekday (when you have time) than to try to figure it out on Monday morning. I had no trouble with the express buses.
    I didn't think the parking situation at the Punchbowl St. courthouse was that bad. My jury selection day was Monday morning @ 7:45 am. The first day of the trial was originally set to start today (Tuesday) @ 10 am. In both cases, I drove down about 25-30 minutes prior and numerous parking stalls were available right on the 2nd floor at the adjoining South St. parking garage both days. When I talked to one of the security guards, he told me that ever since the state moved the family court operations to Kapolei, the parking situation at Punchbowl has been greatly eased, for the most part. Now of course, there may be occasional days when the South St. garage gets busy. But this would be the exception, rather than the rule. The security guard's advice? Drive down to the courthouse about a half-hour prior to your reporting time. This will give you enough time to seek out alternative parking (either at the state's Makai garage on Halekauwila St. or at any on-street metered stall not in a tow-away zone) on the off-chance that the South St. garage is filled.

    In the jury lounge, there were a few people I saw with parking problems. Most of them were parked at Restaurant Row and hence, the type who didn't know how to follow the directions given on their jury summons. They probably also needed someone to hold their hand to guide them to the restrooms and the first floor snackshop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nords View Post
    The clerk in the jury pool room would've benefited from a script. She seemed to have some notes, and she seemed to know what she needed to explain, but words failed her several times. She seemed to be visibly struggling to avoid speaking pidgin, yet if she'd used more pidgin then things would've moved a lot faster. She had trouble answering questions. By the time she was done her "brief" felt like a badly dubbed foreign film, and you wanted subtitles.
    The clerk doing the jury orientation for my pool wouldn't pass for an Oxford Univ. graduate. That said, her less-than-perfect textbook English didn't bother me. Maybe that's because I grew up here.

    But hey, I remember having problems understanding a govt. clerk in Lousiana who spoke with a Cajun accent. So when it comes to civil servants speaking with local/regional dialects and accents, believe me, Hawaii is far from being alone in this regard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nords View Post
    I have difficulty detecting lies, but I've paraphrased some of the reasons that the prospective jurors gave (with very serious facial expressions) for being unable to serve:
    - "I know (or am related to) a lot of police officers, and the defendants are only here because they're lying scumbag lawbreakers who make life hard for the police."
    Being related to someone in law-enforcement will only get you transferred into a jury pool for a civil case. It won't get you excused from jury duty entirely. And do keep in mind,..... civil trials can oftentimes drag on for a couple of weeks or more. So if one is looking to get out of jury duty as quickly as possible, taking the "my cousins are cops" route could very well backfire.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nords View Post
    - "I work for commissions, and the court's $30/day won't pay my rent."
    - "If I miss my mandatory workplace training then [insert global calamity here]."
    Good luck having success with any of that.

    There were several college students in my pool who successfully got deferrals, because they were attending summer school classes. But somewhere down the line, they're all gonna be summoned back.

    A couple of people pleaded health problems. The judge took them at their word and excused them because their physical condition made it obvious. OTOH, anyone who looks healthy on the outside but has legitimate medical issues would do well to have a doctor's note with them.

    There was one lady who spoke with an accent. Even so, her English was understandable and it was good enough in order for her to hold down a job as a nurses' aide at a major hospital. Furthermore, she has been a naturalized citizen for over 20 years. Still, the lady kept insisting that her English speaking and comprehension wasn't good enough to serve as a juror. The judge sternly lectured her, told her about her civic duty as a citizen,..... but at the end, excused her. That didn't sit too well with me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nords View Post
    Once the lawyers had used up their six challenges, we had 12 jurors. (No one was challenged "for cause" so I don't know what that means.)
    The difference between a juror challenged for cause vs. a peremptory challenge was explained in the orientation video. Here's the transcript.

    JUDGE WONG
    The two main types of challenges are called "for cause" and "peremptory". If an attorney challenges a juror for cause, he or she must provide a reason. If the judge agrees, then the juror is dismissed. There is no limit to the number of challenges one can make for cause. If an attorney claims a peremptory challenge, the juror is excused and the reason need not be given. There are a limited number of peremptory challenges allowed.
    In my trial, none of the prospective jurors were challenged for cause. But there were 3 people who were excused at the peremptory challenge stage by the public defender.

    Now for anyone who is still reading this and wants to know the outcome of my trial, I will describe it all in part deux.
    This post may contain an opinion that may conflict with your opinion. Do not take it personal. Polite discussion of difference of opinion is welcome.

  4. #29

    Default Re: Jury Duty

    The jury panel (12 regular and 2 alternate) was finalized from a beginning pool of 47 sometime before 2 pm. As the presiding judge stated, this was a relatively quick and smooth jury selection. Then at the top of the hour, we were excused and told to report back at 10 am the following day. He said that the trial was probably going to last 2 or 3 days (including jury deliberation) barring any unforseen circumstance.

    The defendant in the criminal trial was charged with 2nd degree assault and abuse of a family member. During the jury selection process, the public defender kept asking jurors questions about whether they understood the idea of someone being able to use a certain amount of "force" (as allowed by the law) in order to retrieve personal possessions and property from another person. The 3 prospective jurors (all males, BTW) who were eventually challenged by the public defender were all saying that they didn't think it was okay to use force under any circumstances. While they would have been great spokespeople for anti-domestic violence PSAs, it certainly didn't make them ideal jurors as far the defendant getting a fair trial was concerned.

    OTOH, the prosecutor kept asking the jurors questions to see if they understood the concept of someone being found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. She described scenarios that differentiated between someone who is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, vs. someone who is guilty beyond all possible doubt. She also wanted to see if the jurors understood that differing and conflicting testimonies given in the trial by all of the witnesses, in and of itself, is not reasonable doubt. Clearly, the prosecutor was preparing us for a "he said, she said" kind of trial, and that it would be up to the jury to figure out who is being more credible.

    Anyhow, I showed up at the courthouse this morning. The trial was set to begin at 10, and the baliff had the jury panel all lined up to enter the courtroom. After about 5 minutes of waiting right outside the courtroom door, the baliff came out, apologized, and told us that the proceedings was delayed. So we all sat back down and waited. And waited.

    Then at about 11 am, we were finally summoned into the courtroom. The judge apologized for the delay, but the announcement he gave was welcome news. Without giving any details, he said the jury trial was over, and he thanked us all for fulfilling our civic duty. We were all then excused, if we wanted. But for anyone who wanted to talk to the judge personally and to ask him questions, he would make himself available in the jury deliberation room. There was actually one guy who talked to the baliff afterwards about this, but I would imagine everyone else didn't take the judge up on this offer. We were all, FREE AT LAST! FREE AT LAST!

    Needless to say, some kind of plea deal was hammered out in the courtroom while the jury was waiting outside.

    At this point, I would say that Circuit Court judge Glenn Kim acted in a professional manner. There were times when he was stern, but I guess that's a necessity in a day and age when almost everyone looks to get out of serving on a jury. Also too, he always spoke in layman's terms. Anyone who at least graduated from high school and attended a couple years of college should have had no problem understanding the instructions that he gave.

    Oh well. I'm just glad that I got it all over with. Hopefully, the next summons I get won't roll around for a good long while. <fingers crossed>
    This post may contain an opinion that may conflict with your opinion. Do not take it personal. Polite discussion of difference of opinion is welcome.

  5. #30
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    Default Re: Jury Duty

    This thread is a fascinating read. Thanks go to those who have contributed.

  6. #31
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    Default Re: Jury Duty

    LOL> Tutu. I read every word also.
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  7. #32
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    Default Re: Jury Duty

    I served as a juror several years ago, and was glad of the experience. I felt as if I were in a seminar, observing the whole trial process from beginning to end.

    I overheard this guy say recently, that he was thinking of sending his friend in his place as a juror. It got me thinking... I don't remember having to show my ID at any time. I know I had to turn in my Summons and mileage card, but no ID. Did anyone?

  8. #33

    Default Re: Jury Duty

    Fascinating tales, Nords & FM. Can't say that my two jury-duty terms last year were worth writing about in such detail; let's just say I was happy to have a couple of really large books with me.

  9. #34
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    Default Re: Jury Duty

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharilyn View Post
    I overheard this guy say recently, that he was thinking of sending his friend in his place as a juror. It got me thinking... I don't remember having to show my ID at any time. I know I had to turn in my Summons and mileage card, but no ID. Did anyone?
    Interesting point. I never showed ID. I never saw anyone have to show any ID. I guess the assumption is that if you're holding the summons then you're who it claims you are.

    I can only imagine the wrath of God that'd rain down upon this attempted deception if it was discovered. Inside the courthouse, it's pretty clear who's a lion and who's an antelope. If I wanted to get out of jury duty so badly that I'd risk sending a proxy then it's probably better to just not show up at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo Lakio View Post
    Fascinating tales, Nords & FM. Can't say that my two jury-duty terms last year were worth writing about in such detail; let's just say I was happy to have a couple of really large books with me.
    My first time ever. I'm not eager to repeat it, but I guess it's one of the obligations that goes with the benefits.

    I finished most of a paperback in one day.

    I'd have to check the fine print on the next summons, but I'm under the impression that you're not asked to serve more than once a year. That may depend on whether you actually had to go all the way through a trial to a verdict.
    Last edited by Nords; July 14th, 2010 at 10:37 AM.
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  10. #35
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    Default Re: Jury duty part 1/2 again

    I haven't found any website archives on this story, so I'm not going to use names. However it was clear from the "accidental testimony" and the defense's objections that we weren't supposed to hear about the rest of the defendant's day. When he was arrested that night, the police were already looking for the car his girlfriend was driving. Maybe he wasn't involved in anything else or maybe he really was "just helping out his girlfriend". We jurors were only supposed to deliberate on his offenses of "promoting a dangerous drug" and "possessing drug paraphernalia". Whatever had happened that day, two years later a couple of the patrol officers were still visibly pissed off at the defendant.

    I don't know what took two years, either. He'd spent almost 24 months "free" on $11K bail, plus whatever other legal action was being taken. Maybe the two years was needed to finish up other trials, or maybe it just took the bureaucracy that long to get around to what is probably considered a minor crime. Frankly the arrest & trial seemed like a colossal waste of time & money, or maybe the police & prosecutors just wanted to beat him down some more because they couldn't try him on anything else. We weren't there; we have to trust their judgment.

    But before I describe the trial, there's more courthouse bureaucracy. On Monday we chosen 14 (12 + two alternates) showed up outside the courtroom at 9:15 for our day's first muster. We were lined up in the order in which we'd filled the jury box (back row first) so that we could quickly march into the courtroom in single file and take our seats by the ripple without a bunch of milling around. (The courtroom is surprisingly small and hard to move around in, so this might be necessity rather than formality.) Of course after the muster and lineup we had to wait outside a couple minutes in formation until the extern came back out to give us the "enter" signal. During the day we performed this evolution at least six times.

    Because of this muster/processional formality, it takes a few minutes to move the jury. If it was done every time we jurors weren't supposed to hear something then we'd be mustering & marching all day. The judge has to whisper when he wants to talk privately to the lawyers in a 25'x25' room without us jurors eavesdropping. But the other court personnel (clerks, reporter, extern, other trainees) have to hear what he says too. So when the judge says "Counsel, approach the bench", the rest of the staff leaps out of their seats and scampers up to gather around the bench, notepads & pens in hand, poised for action on the judge's every syllable. The reporter actually hoists their (portable) gizmo onto the top of the bench, right under the judge's nose, and types while he whispers. This happened at least a dozen times that day at the judge's behest, and perhaps another dozen or so at a lawyer's request. So requesting to approach the bench risks getting a half-dozen other people annoyed at you.

    Before our first bathroom break of the day, the judge read us the court's jury rules-- over three pages of "What not to do". (I guess they've had lots of problems.) The judge admonished us that until a verdict had been returned, we couldn't approach the lawyers or defendant(s) or let them approach us. We had to report if it happened to us, and we had to tattle on the other jurors if we saw it happen to them. We were told not to talk about the case with anyone, of course, but we were specifically admonished not to Facebook, Tweet, blog, text, e-mail, chat, or post to website discussion boards. The judge said that it seemed pretty silly to say these things ("If any of you actually understand any of the things I'm talking about") but he also said that the court had already had a juror livecasting a trial. (Ryan, do you have any stories to share with us?) We were also given lanyards with big blue "JUROR" cards so that the rest of the courthouse occupants would know to avoid us around the bathrooms or the coffee pot. You spend the day surrounded by strangers with whom you really can't converse about the subjects on your mind, unless it's witticisms like "Hey, how 'bout that weather?" Ironically the deliberation has an element of time pressure ("Get me the heck outta here"), yet you realize that you hardly know these people aside from having sat beside them for a day. In retrospect I wish I'd spent more break time getting to know my fellow jurors-- yet during the breaks you really just want quiet time to use the bathroom, get more coffee, and maybe warm up outside. Lunch was 75 minutes, but of course it's out of the question to send the whole jury over to a group table at Restaurant Row for talk story.

    The judge said that he was required to read these instructions to us before each break, but he hoped we'd just consider it said each time without him having to read it again. As he was reading from his pages of text, the reporter was furiously pounding their keyboard to convert his speech to more printed text. Courtrooms desperately need automated voice-to-text transcriptions and optical character recognition but perhaps the tech isn't considered reliable enough for legal purposes. Or maybe court reporters don't get paid much.

    The trial started with the most boring testimony, which was probably a good idea at 9:30 AM rather than at 4 PM. The prosecutor brought in an evidence analyst who spent 10 minutes explaining why she was an expert, and then said that she'd found 128 milligrams of crystal methamphetamine residue in a glass pipe. It wasn't that simple-- she had to explain how she got it out of the pipe without losing/contaminating it, and then how her machines would analyze it without further screwing things up. The prosecutor was checking off some sort of list as she asked her questions, though, so this was probably considered an essential part of the trial. The defense lawyer could've saved a lot of time by agreeing to accept the evidence without testimony, but maybe the defense is supposed to wait for the prosecutor to make a fatal error in front of the judge. Probably he hopes the testimony will put the jurors to sleep and and declare a mistrial.

    Once we learned that the pipe contained meth, we backtracked through the fascinating journey of how the pipe got to the analyst from the defendant. More checklist questions, more procedural debate, and testimony from five police officers & evidence clerks who had to verify the chain of custody. (One of the clerks had since retired but still had to come into court to testify.) We were even shown how a meth pipe is operated. By the time we got to the point where the patrol officer made the traffic stop, the suspense was killing us.

    The patrol officer said that she stopped the car just before midnight, observed the defendant in the passenger seat, and told everyone to stay put. She called for backup (the car was already on an APB) and more officers arrived. As they pulled up, the defendant got out of the car and started walking away from the road. Another officer told him to stop and lie down. As the officer searched the prone defendant he rolled him over and observed the meth pipe under his shirt tail, sticking out from the waistband of his pants. He said the defendant told him "Oh, that's just one pipe."

    The defense lawyer actually let his client testify, which in retrospect may perhaps have been a mistake. The defendant said that when they were pulled over he asked the driver (his girlfriend) "Uh-oh, you just picked up this car from your in-laws. Is there anything in here that's going to be trouble?" He says she handed him the meth pipe out of the center console. It was midnight and he couldn't see the pipe but he knew what one felt like, so he decided to hide it in his waistband under his shirt tail until he could get rid of it. As soon as he thought no one was looking, he got out of the car to throw it over a nearby hill. That's his story and he'd been sticking to it for the last two years.

    The defense lawyer couldn't do anything about "possession", the second charge, except to say that it wasn't his client's pipe and it wasn't his intent to hold onto the pipe. But his client told the jury that he knew it was a meth pipe and decided to hold on to it to get rid of it. His own testimony satisfied the elements of the "possession" charge. I don't understand why he didn't just plead guilty right away to that charge, or at least plea bargain. "Three strikes" or some other issue? We jurors weren't given the rest of that story.

    As for "promoting a dangerous drug", the defense claimed that the prosecution hadn't proven anything. Defense said prosecution hadn't tested for the defendant's fingerprints or saliva on the pipe, so they must not have enough evidence for a case. However the charge has just two elements, one of which is having any amount of meth (even 128 mg), and the second is acting "knowingly". The prosecutor said that his client didn't know there were meth crystals in the pipe (a small amount about the size of a pea) and didn't "know", so he couldn't be found guilty of acting knowingly.

    Luckily the judge had us covered. In his 34 pages (!) of jury instructions, one page went into great detail about "knowingly", including how jurors could draw conclusions from the defendant's actions. While you might not be able to figure out what's going through the defendant's mind ("What was he thinking?!?"), you were able to make judgments from his behavior. If he was acting guilty then he was acting "knowingly". If the defense objects to the judge's jury instructions then I guess he has to appeal the verdict.
    Last edited by Nords; July 14th, 2010 at 10:45 AM.

  11. #36
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    Default Re: Jury duty part 2/2 again

    Both lawyers annoyed the heck out of us jurors. In my opinion the simplest concepts were explained in exceedingly great detail, perhaps due to problems with previous cases or appeals. However their pantomiming gave the impression that the jury was too stupid to understand even the CSI-Honolulu version of the story. Both lawyers' concluding arguments consisted of essentially stamping their feet, waving their hands in the air, and insisting "This case is so stunningly simple that even a caveman could reach a verdict!" After more than five hours of being lectured at, we were not inspired. But if they finished quickly then we could start deliberations before the judge's 4 PM adjournment.

    The judge read through his instructions fairly quickly (again the reporter transcribed his entire speech). Then since we 12 had survived the day, he dismissed the alternates. (Lucky guys.) We remaining jurors were sent to deliberations.

    Well, not so fast. First we had to learn more bureaucracy. The deliberations room is barely big enough for a table, 12 chairs, and a coffeepot. It's almost as cramped as the jury box, even more up close & personal with the people keeping you from going home. The "good" thing about the deliberations room is that it has adjoining bathrooms. We couldn't deliberate if one of us was in the bathroom, but one juror mentioned that 10 years ago (before they'd built this room), if even just one juror needed to pee then the entire jury pool had to stop and march together down the hall to the bathrooms. Talk about performance pressure.

    If we had questions for the judge, we couldn't just ask. We had to fill out a "jury communications" form, press a buzzer button to summon the extern, hand over the form, and wait for a response. The judge cautioned us that the lawyers were only required to be within 10 minutes of the courtroom, and working out the response with them could take up to 40 minutes. The lesson we learned was to avoid asking questions. We were also not allowed to read the trial transcript, so we had to go by our memories. We couldn't even read our notes to the other jurors. We were only allowed to use the notes to refresh our own memories, and then we had to explain that to the others in our own words.

    When we reached a verdict, we couldn't just buzz the extern and go back to the jury box. We had to send a new communications form (you can't reuse them!) saying only that we'd reached a verdict and then wait for the judge to recall us to the courtroom. In the courtroom we'd hand over the verdict form(s), a separate one for each charge. We were given prefilled verdict forms, one stating "Guilty" and the other "Not guilty". Getting a little sloppy with the paperwork has the potential for miscarriage of justice.

    We also had a basket of paper scraps for recording our votes. I probably shouldn't say this, but I can't believe that the court hasn't created a form for tallying the votes. When I was in the submarine force I literally started up nuclear reactors with far less paperwork than the contents of the deliberations room.

    You're paid $30/day + mileage to deliberate for as long as you want. However it was 3 PM Monday and we'd have to stop at 4 PM to let the court staff finish their workday. The judge announced that if we needed more time then we'd reconvene Tuesday morning at 9:30. This was very bad news because the previous Friday (during jury selection) he had clearly said that we'd be in court on Monday & Wednesday since he didn't hold trials on Tuesdays. One of the braver jurors (not me) finally raised his hand to ask if the judge meant Wednesday. He said "No, you'll deliberate Tuesday if you don't finish today." We reminded him of his Friday remarks and he said "Well, I can't be in trial on Tuesday, but you can be in deliberations." We said that we'd already made a bunch of other plans for Tuesday based on what he said on Friday, and it was pretty late on Monday to be making plan-changing phone calls. He said "That's the way I write the schedule."

    I think he knew on Friday that he was setting us up for this. It was pretty clear that the only way to avoid coming in on Tuesday was to finish deliberating on Monday. (I guess any objections to the judge's scheduling would have to wait for the appeal of the verdict.) So going into that deliberations room, all of us knew we needed to reach two unanimous decisions before 4 PM. No pressure!

    By the time the lawyers, the judge, and the extern had finished explaining our jobs to us, it was way past time for the first order of business: a bathroom break. As everyone leaped for the lua, I jokingly announced "First one in gets elected jury foreperson!" Everyone froze in their tracks and glared at me. Sorry.

    After potty break we had to elect a foreperson. (Tick tick tick...) We talked story for a few minutes, not really directly addressing the question. I cracked first and asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to be foreperson. After 11 more incredulous glares (including that of a former jury foreperson) I asked "Well, does anyone object if I volunteer to be foreman?" Oh, sure, no problem brah. Now I'm everyone's best buddy.

    We decided to start by voting on the first "promotion" charge to see if we all agreed. 10 "guilty", 2 "not". Crap. We talked about "knowingly" for a while and when we ran out of comments we voted again. 11-1. Double crap. As we pondered our next step, an experienced mediator proposed moving on to the second charge, and its vote also came out 11-1. Holy crap, a criminal jury's nightmare. We parsed our 34 pages of instructions and learned that "conceal" was considered part of "possess". A lightbulb went on over one juror's head. Next vote was 12-0, hallelujah! While everyone refilled their coffee cups, I buzzed the extern and scribbled out a quick note that we'd reached a verdict on the second charge.

    When she entered the jury room I realized that she'd had to unlock the door with her key. We 12 jurors had been locked into a room with steel doors and no emergency exits. Seems kinda fire-hazardous to me, but I wasn't going to debate it at 3:30 PM.

    As we settled back at the table to finish the first charge, the extern interrupted with a typewritten question from the judge-- were we still deliberating the first charge? Apparently "Well, DUH" is not considered proper legal decorum on the communications form, so I revised my response to "Yes." A few minutes later she interrupted again his new (typewritten) response: "Continue your deliberations." Well, double DUH.

    If you're the lone dissenting juror then you don't want to reveal your vote to the rest of the wolfpack and get torn apart over it. We approached this privacy issue by asking all the jurors to come up with "not guilty" reasons. Another juror (who eventually admitted they were the "not guilty" voter) said that while the defendant's guilty actions could be called "knowing", they weren't very effective. Why walk away from the car, not run? Why not just drop the pipe under the seat, crush it under the floormats, or throw it out the window? Why tell the officer "Oh, that's just one pipe"? We eventually decided that "knowingly" was not the same as "intelligently", and that the defendant could've been under considerable stress when he made his plans. Next vote: 12-0. "Woo-hoo, we finished before 4 PM!" Um, sorry, I meant to say that we'd finished our deliberations and convicted a man of two felonies.

    Of course we couldn't just buzz the extern and tell her that we'd reached the verdict. We had to fill out communications form #3 and wait for the judge to respond. While we waited we gathered our instructions, unused forms, voting slips, and notebooks into a foot-high pile on the table... probably for the extern to feed into a shredder. When we finally filed back into the courtroom we had to hand over the verdict forms and wait for the judge to read then. Then he asked us to announce our verdict.

    If any of the jurors still felt a little flippant at finishing so quickly and getting out of there, that emotion immediately vaporized when the verdict was announced. The defendant looked totally shocked and crushed by the verdict, and the young woman with him (his daughter?) dissolved in tears. The defense lawyer glared at us as if he'd been stuck with the stupidest jury to ever preside over such a travesty of justice. He asked the judge to poll the jurors, perhaps to learn whether we'd tricked some of us or made a mistake with the verdict forms. When we all announced "guilty", the judge set the sentencing date and said "Now we have the issue of raising the bail."

    The defense lawyer immediately looked shocked himself and said "Your honor, defendant has complied with bail for nearly two years and he's clearly demonstrated he's not a flight risk. Nothing has changed that!" The judge & prosecutor managed not to roll their eyes, let alone point out that there was now a guilty verdict and a sentencing hearing to contend with. Judge raised the bail to $25K and ordered the extern to phone the sheriff. The defendant looked like he was ready to collapse, and his daughter was even more upset.

    The judge thanked the jury and dismissed us. As we left the courtroom, the defendant was being taken to jail. I caught the 4:38 express bus, but for all I know he may still be trying to raise his bail bond. I'll keep an eye on the news websites but we may never learn the rest of the story.

    Two days of jury duty (plus mileage) is about $86. I've been retired for eight years and that amount won't make a significant difference to my life. After this experience I'm thinking of donating an extra $100 to a local charity. Any recommendations?
    Youth may be wasted on the young, but retirement is wasted on the old.
    Live like you're dying, invest like you're immortal.
    We grow old if we stop playing, but it's never too late to have a happy childhood.
    Forget about who you were-- discover who you are.

  12. #37

    Default Re: Jury Duty

    Quote Originally Posted by Nords View Post
    I'd have to check the fine print on the next summons, but I'm under the impression that you're not asked to serve more than once a year.
    In my case, one was municipal court, and the other was district court. However, having served on a jury in the former would have been an excuse to remove me from the latter, had it come to that.

  13. #38
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Kihei -currently away at school in NY
    Posts
    734

    Default Re: Jury Duty

    I've had to do jury duty 3 times over my lifetime. Here in NY, they only call you once every three years. They pay you $11/day only if you cannot be paid by your employer and most employers pay for missing work due to jury duty. I don't recall anything about mileage reimbursement.

    The first time I didn't even have to show up. Just call after 5 and was told no jurors were needed. The 2nd time was a civil case where an obviously well-off couple and their son were suing an obviously hard working single mother and her son for pain and suffering due to an accident during a pick-up baseball game. The kicker of it all was that the son who was suing was standing where he shouldn't have been and got hit by a bat. They asked me if I thought I could be completely neutral while deliberating this case. Now, I'm generally pretty quite - but this case really got on my nerves. I told the lawyers that it was cases like this that clogged the court system and gave our country a bad name as a sue happy nation. Apparently I hit a nerve with the rest of the jurors because they ended up dismissing all of us and had to call up a new pool. Definitely one of my prouder moments. I read in the paper a while later that the new jury found in favor of the couple doing the suing - and awarded them one cent.

    The 3rd time was a drug and prostitution charge for a 3rd time offender. I convinced the judge that I couldn't possibly miss class and that finding a substitute was impossible. He let me go.

  14. #39
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Kailua
    Posts
    1,285

    Default Re: Jury duty part 2/2 again

    Quote Originally Posted by Nords View Post
    Two days of jury duty (plus mileage) is about $86. I've been retired for eight years and that amount won't make a significant difference to my life. After this experience I'm thinking of donating an extra $100 to a local charity. Any recommendations?
    Yes! Donate to a facility or program that assists recovering meth addicts and their families!
    ~ This is the strangest life I've ever known ~

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